Janesville31.7°

Committee to consider change for mid-level managers

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Mike Heine
December 8, 2007
— Any mid-level manager applicants thinking of working for Walworth County may have a decision to make: take the county’s health insurance or take a $5,000 annual stipend.

The human resources committee will discuss at a special meeting Tuesday if it wants to attach such an incentive to 12 mid-level manager positions in six county departments.


The discussion will also determine if the positions have a “for cause” provision removed from contracts, meaning department heads could fire any new mid-level managers, County Administrator David Bretl said.


Working “at will” means the employees must work hard to impress, Bretl said.


“You come to work with a different frame of mind when you don’t have that kind of job security,” Bretl said. “You need to continually prove your worth to the organization.”


The county already has top management now, Bretl said. Contracts for current mid-level managers would not change. The proposal, if passed by the committee and the county board, would only affect new hires.


“This isn’t any kind of criticism on them (current managers), but we are also paying top dollar for these jobs and the county should expect top performance from them,” he said.


Two mid-level manager positions are currently vacant and a third will open up with a retirement expected in January.


Bretl said he doesn’t want the type of manager that is looking to work for Walworth County because it offers job security.


“A good employee is not intimidated by an ‘at will’ standard,” Bretl said. “They know they have talent and ability and will be in demand if they are not wanted by this organization.”


Bretl could not quantify how much savings the county could see if the proposal passes. That is dependent on how many new managers would take the annual cash stipend compared to how much of a benefit they would get in terms of health insurance.


The stipend, which will never increase, has less dollar-for-dollar value than the insurance benefit, Bretl said.


He didn’t expect a huge savings, but the county is looking for ways to curb health care costs. The health care budget for 975 employees and retirees has skyrocketed in recent years to $17.6 million tabbed in 2008.


“It’s a reduction, but it’s not a drastic reduction,” Bretl said of the potential for savings. “The benefit really comes in the performance enhancement.”


Currently, all full-time county employees receive health care benefits. There are no opt-out options for any positions, Bretl said.


“This could be an opportunity to test-drive this program,” he said.



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